The pacification of institutional investors

James D. Westphal, Michael K. Bednar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A large-scale survey of U.S. top executives and fund managers is used to examine how executives may use interpersonal influence behavior to prevent powerful institutional investors from using their coercive power to force changes in corporate governance and strategy. We theorize that high levels of institutional ownership may prompt CEOs to engage in interpersonal influence behavior in the form of ingratiation and persuasion directed at institutional fund managers, which deters them from using their ownership power to coerce changes that could benefit shareholders at the expense of top management. The results support our theory, indicating that CEOs' ingratiation and persuasion tactics toward institutional fund managers reduce the effect of institutional ownership on specific changes in board structure and composition, CEO compensation, and corporate strategy that are believed to compromise management's interests. Our theory and findings suggest the importance of considering how interpersonal influence processes can provide an alternative source of influence in relationships between corporate leaders and external constituents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-72
Number of pages44
JournalAdministrative Science Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration


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